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Archive for March, 2018

Payday Report

March 30th, 2018 at 04:01 pm

$1200.00 Citi Visa
__176.50 Tithe
__100.00 Best Buy (18 months same as cash)
__184.07 Medical
___56.83 Life Insurance DH
___45.30
--------------
$1762.20 Total Money Out

Jury Duty Update and Taxes Update

March 30th, 2018 at 02:21 pm

DH's boss told him that if he gets called in during his week of jury duty he can work on the weekend and come in after jury duty if he wants to to get as many hours as he can. If he worked for them directly, instead of through the job recruiter, they actually still pay you for the week.

I told him to call the job recruiter and see if they offer something similar, because that would make things easier. But even if they don't, he can still get some work in, so it won't be a no pay week. We think he should be able to manage 30 hours. 30 hours of pay I can work with. Even 20. Just losing that full check would have been too much.

It's also possible they won't call him in for some of the days. They have you call in each morning to see if you are needed that day. If he only gets called in for 3 days, then he can get a full five days of work in. Best case scenario. Well, best case would actually be if they don't need him at all, but I don't know how likely that is.

DD has a cold. I hope she is better by her surgery on the 9th or we will have to postpone it. She has a pre-op appointment on Tuesday so I guess we will see if she needs to go on antibiotics then. It's not like we can wait until she's well. She's never well.

If it does get postponed that'll put us closer to when we get our tax refund. DH did finish the taxes the other night. I just hope it doesn't get audited or something. We claimed $21,000 in medical expenses and that might be a red flag. I do have all the receipts. We might have even spent more, but that was all I had the receipts for. We also never got the HSA people to issue a corrected form, so I'm just kind of hoping we slide under the radar with that. We should be getting $8000 something back.

Once we get the $8K back, I feel like we'll have some breathing room. DH has been given a new project, so he's still employed for a couple more months. Hopefully by the time June 6th arrives, they will offer him a direct job. They do like him and like his work. There are people that are going to be retiring within the next year or two, but I don't know how soon.

If not, then slope work is picking up again. If he goes back up there it is a lot more money and we could sure use it to get back to a place where I feel financially secure again and I can finish paying Mom back. I think as it is, I am going to give her $1000 out of the tax refund. Unless the surgery costs are just too high. We'll see.

Ugh, We Don't Need This

March 27th, 2018 at 08:17 pm

A summons for DH to do jury duty came in the mail today. It is only for a week, but right now we really can't afford to lose a week's income. We are still in recovery from all the unemployment and with the upcoming medical bills we will have for my daughter's surgery and my son's wisdom teeth it is going to be tight enough. If we lose that week of wages we will be struggling really hard. We will try to get him excused based on financial hardship.

I have set up the appointment for the consult and the x-ray for DS's wisdom teeth. The consult is $90 and the x-ray is $96. I also set up for him to get impressions done at the dentist for a mouth guard. He has been grinding his teeth and it is starting to cause some damage and worse, cause pain. The mouth guard will cost around $500. Life without dental is fun, not that dental would pay for much of it anyway. I am not sure how much the wisdom tooth removal will be but I imagine around $1000 to $1500.

DH needs to get our taxes done so we can get our refund and have a little breathing room again. He's been working so much overtime he hasn't had a chance to do it. He's got it half done, he just needs a chunk of time to finish. Hopefully he can get to it this week. This is the first time in years we haven't had our taxes done by early February.

I really need to put my head down and get some writing done. I have kind of been in the wrong head space, but I think I just need to set a goal of 1000 words a day and start churning it out. It doesn't have to be good, but I have to get back into the practice of doing it and then worry about making it good. Writer's block can be such a bear.

For CreditCardFree on Thrive Life

March 26th, 2018 at 03:55 pm

CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.

I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.

The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.

What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.

I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.

I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.

I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.

Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.

Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.

I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.

I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.

I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.

They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.

I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.

What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.

So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.

For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website: https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.

Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.

Meal Planning for the Week

March 25th, 2018 at 06:26 pm

I have gotten away from meal planning lately and I do think it is a big factor on why we are getting too much take out, so I am going to get back to it. If I hadn't gotten my Power Pressure Cooker for my birthday I think we'd be getting even more take out. That thing makes it so easy to cook. I couldn't afford the Instant Pot that I wanted, but I could afford the 8 quart Power cooker that I got.

So far I've been quite happy with the decision and Instant Pot recipes are easily converted. I do want to get some of the inserts, though, so I'm saving up for those. I also do want to get the $400 Instant Pot one day, but that day is not going to be any time soon.

I think at least four meals a week are being cooked in the pressure cooker. Sometimes the full meal or sometimes I'll make baked potatoes or some other vegetable in the Nuwave oven. These two products alone have really simplified my life, not having an actual oven or stove to cook on. The electric skillet and the crock pot get some use as well, but the first two are my go to machines right now. Well, that and the microwave for steamer bags or canned veggies.

Discovering I can make spaghetti and other pastas in the pressure cooker has just simplified my life so much. Not to mention cooking a roast in less than an hour. Or a lava cake using Swerve instead of sugar. Anyway, I hope making a meal plan again will snap me out of some of the bad habits I have fallen back into.

Sunday:
Spaghetti and Meatballs (PC)
Salad

Monday:
Rabbit Stir-fry
Stir-fried Rice

Tuesday:
Enchiladas (Freezer Meal)
Cole Slaw

Wednesday:
Pork Roast (PC)
Fried Potatoes
Broccoli and Cauliflower

Thursday:
Chicken Fajitas (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Friday:
Air-fried Duck Breast (NW)
Fried Potatoes
Broccoli/Cauliflower

Saturday:
BBQ Pork Chops (PC)
Baked Potatoes (NW)
Brussels Sprouts

Sunday:
Lamb Roast (PC)
Baked Potatoes (NW)
Green Beans

Payday Report for 3/23/18

March 25th, 2018 at 03:40 pm

DH had 10 hours of overtime on this paycheck, which is great, plus I got my Youtube/Google AdSense pay deposited, so that will be reflected in the tithe amount. We didn't have a lot of bills. We don't generally since we run everything through the credit cards and then pay them off weekly or monthly depending on the card.

$1200.00 Citi Visa
__188.51 Tithe
__275.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
__100.00 Best Buy (18 months same as cash)
-----------
$1763.51 Total Money Out

I transferred my wages to savings. There is a small amount left in checking, just under $60. We run it close since we write so few checks anymore, but it is hooked to a savings account that will automatically feed the checking account for a $1 fee if for some reason my math was off and we went over. Good credit unions are nice that way. Right now that savings has over $800 in it, so I'd have to screw up in a really big way to not be protected there.

DH still hasn't signed up for the 401K. I'm trying to get him to do that this week. We will start with 2% and after DD's surgery is paid for we will increase it by 1% each month until it becomes too tight, until we hit 6%. We may do more, but I really have to feel what living with that amount taken out will be like.

Plus we have to build the EF back up. And I want to be able to purchase half a steer, 30 chickens, and half a hog again in the fall/winter, so the money does have to be available for that. It saves us so much money in the long run to do that. At the very least the beef.

Farm Trip

March 24th, 2018 at 08:51 pm

DH and I drove down to the farm this afternoon. Their was a nasty accident in the I-5 north bound lanes. We could see the traffic backed up for miles. There were several ambulances, 2 or 3 police cars, and at least one fire truck. I said a quick prayer for the victims as we passed and I was very glad we were going south.

It was a beautiful day for a drive, bright and sunny, but cold. There was still snow on the foothills about 20 feet above ground level. Yet at the same time the forsythia and cherry trees are blooming. It was gorgeous.

At the farm I picked up 5 roasts for canning. I am out of canned beef. It is my preferred way of making beef stew, to used canned beef, and stew season will be over soon. I also got 8 packages of bacon (they have the best I have ever tasted), and 2 packages of beef stir-fry meat. They cut it really thin. I have a hard time getting it that thin myself, so on occasion I will get some.

We only had to pay for 4 of the roasts. The fifth one she gave us for free. They come vacuum sealed and sometimes the vacuum part will undo, but the package itself will still be sealed. They can't sell them that way, so they just give them away. I just use them or can them quickly.

I also sold them a rabbit for $82.20. That will pay for feed for about 3 to 4 months for the rabbits and ducks. I love it that they support themselves. I am going to try to sell a breeding trio soon. I have a really nice set of 2 broken blacks (male and female) and a broken red (female) that are just gorgeous and wonderfully proportioned.

Anyway, we took Chuckanut Drive on the way home to avoid the backup on the freeway. It is a beautiful drive, but unnerving. There are places where the cliffs jut out over the road, or right next to it with no shoulder. Although driving north on it is far more unsettling than driving south, because it always feels like you could tumble right off the edge of the road and down into the bay. It is such a narrow road. Still we survived it and we saw a lot of waterfalls from the snow melt.

Then DH and I went out to eat. I got a quesadilla with a side of rice and he had a burrito and a relleno. Just a small, cheap little lunch without the kids. It was nice. Probably unnecessary since we went out to eat last Saturday, too, but that was our 23rd anniversary and we used the money his mother gave us for a present to do it. I'll be tightening in again on the spending after this.

Payday Report for 3/16/18

March 20th, 2018 at 07:55 pm

I have been sick and not really staying on top of blogging, but I have been staying on top of bills. I got my Thrive Life commission check of $59.68 and DH's pay with overtime was $1685.22. I am still waiting on my Google/Youtube check to be deposited, but it should be in there soon. Usually it goes in on the 15th, but not always.

$1000.00 to Citi Visa
__174.52 tithe
__110.54 Medical
__452.88 Car Insurance (6 months)
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$1737.94 Money Out

I had a little money left from before so that was really what was used for the medical bill. This leaves me with $68.52 in checking until Friday. No bills are due, so that is fine. I transferred my wages to savings. I am not really sure what will end up happening there. I am not really specifying savings until after DD's surgery. After that gets paid for, then I'll go back to specifying EF and sinking funds, but for now there is really no point. It is pretty much all medical until it isn't.

Frugal Breakfasts

March 20th, 2018 at 06:13 pm

Laura was asking about frugal meals. For breakfast we eat a lot of egg variations, because eggs are still the cheapest thing we can buy, really. Or get for free from our ducks.

Right now I'm on a baked omelet kick, where I just spray a mini-meatloaf tin and add two beaten eggs, 3 tbsp of vegetables, 1 to 3 tbsp of cheese and 2 tbsp of meat. I use up a lot of leftover veg this way. You can make them in large size muffin tins (not cupcake size) if you are making multiples.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes. It really depends on your oven for the time. In my Nuwave it takes 20 minutes and in my gas oven it takes 30 minutes. I imagine an electric oven is somewhere in between. Stick a toothpick in the center and check that it comes out clean and that is when it is done.

My favorite variations:

2 eggs, 3 tbsp pico de gallo, 2 tbsp sausage, 1 tbsp sharp cheddar, salt and pepper

2 eggs, 3 tbsp chopped broccoli and cauliflower, 2 tbsp diced ham, 1 tbsp sharp cheddar, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 1 tbsp chopped tomato, 1 tbsp diced green bell pepper, 1 tbsp diced onion, 2 tbsp diced ham, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 1 diced green onion, 2 tbsp leftover or canned salmon or tuna, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 3 tbsp leftover taco meat, 2 tbsp Mexi-blend cheese

2 eggs, 2 tbsp ground beef seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, 1 tbsp diced Anaheim chili pepper, 1 tbsp diced red bell pepper, 1 tbsp diced red onion, salt and pepper

To make this easier on me, I will dice up a bunch of ham or cook a pound of sausage or ground beef and then flash freeze them flat on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours so they don't stick together, before bagging them up and leaving them in the freezer. That way I can easily measure out as much as I need the night before and it will be thawed by morning. I also have my containers of chopped veggies done up, so I can just mix and match in the morning. I am watching my carbs, so this is basically what I always eat, sometimes with additional veggies. For the rest of the family I have other options.

Another cheap breakfast we do is breakfast burritos. It is rather simple to do up a huge batch. It requires 24 eggs and 2 pounds of sausage. Brown the sausage, beat the eggs (I use my stand mixer because this is a lot of eggs), and pour the eggs over the sausage. Stir until done. If you don't have a large enough skillet for this, cut the recipe in half and do two batches.

Take a tortilla, spoon some filling in, add the cheese of your choice and roll once, fold one end up, finish the roll, and then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze in gallon size ziplocs. This recipe will fill 4 bags. We keep one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. When we run out we take another bag out the night before. My husband likes to dip his in picante sauce or salsa. I did this one for my youtube channel so if you'd like to watch it done here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl9orZD6JR4

Scrambled egg sandwiches are another. You simply scramble your egg, butter a slice of bread, spoon the egg into it and fold the bread in half. It is simple, but amazingly good (even on cheap, ordinary bread).

Pancakes and waffles are something that can be made ahead and frozen individually so they don't stick together and then bagged up for the freezer. They can be warmed up from frozen or you can just take them out the night before and then warm them up. You can use mix, but they are simple and cheaper to make from scratch. Add some hard-boiled eggs and you have your protein as well. French toast also lends itself to make ahead and freeze and is very simple to large batch cook.

Breakfast is probably the easiest meal to save money on if you don't mind some repetition. I think lunches and dinners are more of a challenge, but I will go through my recipe binder and see what I come up with. Since we buy so much in bulk off of farms and raise some of our food ourselves, it is harder for me to figure what other people's costs are. But I do have some that I think will fit the bill.

The Surest Path to Poverty

March 11th, 2018 at 02:58 pm

According to the Brookings Institute, the surest path to get out of poverty is to do 3 things. Finish high school, get a job, and get married before having babies. Well, yet another one of my nieces is setting herself on a course to never getting out of poverty. She is 18 and pregnant. I guess she had to do her sister, who was 19 when she got pregnant, one better. At least they finished high school. But being an unwed teenage mother means they are unlikely to ever dig themselves out of the hole they currently reside in. If one does it will be the younger, but considering how they were raised, I don't think so.

Niece 1 is now on her own, having recently left her boyfriend. Her only job is watching her older half-sister's kids. Niece 2 has a catering job that requires a lot of heavy lifting, so she likely won't be able to continue in that job after a few more months. They have decided to get an apartment together. Niece 2 may have to drop out of college.

These girls knew about and had access to birth control. Free birth control because of their income level. While accidents can happen, if you are using the condom with spermicide and the pill it is really, really unlikely unless you are extremely careless.

SIL's family is such a train wreck. These are the ones that got violent over the holidays and we refuse to do Christmas and Thanksgiving with now. I do not understand how DH and SIL could be raised by the same set of parents and one be stable and solid with good values and one be so far off the boards. I guess her daughters didn't really have a chance. Rotating men after she divorced their father and then when she finally did have a steady boyfriend he was a married man. And their father has kids all around the state with different women, none of which he married.

All I know is that when I watched my sister do something similarly stupid (get married at 19 and get pregnant immediately) I swore to myself I'd never let it happen to me. When she had to leave her abusive husband and come home with her first born child and dig herself out of poverty via welfare and Pell grants to the technical college, I swore I'd do everything in my power not to put myself in a situation like that where I would have to struggle financially for years. It was so hard for her, but she did do it. She had the support of the whole family, though, and these girls do not.

I cannot imagine being niece 2 and having watched her sister go through this, and being on her way through college, deciding that being careless about birth control could ever be a good idea. You learn through your sister's mistakes. You don't repeat them.

Maybe niece 2's boyfriend will stick around for a year or two. Maybe he'll even see it out. Or maybe he'll go the way of niece 1's boyfriend, with no job, refusing to grow up, playing video games all day, and smoking pot. My faith in this family's choices seems to indicate it will be the latter, although niece 2's boyfriend is quite a bit older so maybe he'll do right by the child.

It is one thing to be an older, established, single woman who decides to get pregnant. While I still think it is better to be married and raise a kid in a two parent household, if your finances are in order and your support system is in place, then that is a choice that is relatively valid to make, though I think it puts your kid at a disadvantage. When you do it as a teenager, it can take all of your future choices away from you and you may never get them back. And what kind of life will you be providing for your child?

I just get so frustrated. I've tried to help this family for years and I kept my judgments to myself to their faces. I'd rant on here from time to time, but I never let it show in real life. Now I've just given up on the whole lot of them. Not because of this, because of Thanksgiving. I just worry for the babies. They will have no stability in their lives. But what are you going to do? You can't live people's lives for them. You can't force them to make good choices. You can only watch or choose not to watch at all.

Payday Report + Haircut + Mom + Murphy + Food Waste

March 10th, 2018 at 05:13 pm

Well, I did it. I got my hair cut to my collarbone. It was a foot or so of hair taken off. I had it thinned and layered and the curls are just crazy bouncy now. I am very happy with it. I can't remember being this happy with a haircut in a couple of decades. It is easy to care for and simple to style, though it takes more time than just braiding it or putting it up in pony tail. It just looks so nice that I don't care if it takes me an extra 10 minutes to curl it around my face.

Mom is home from the hospital and doing very well. She is only taking Tylenol for the pain and hasn't needed anything else. She is getting around very well and able to do much for herself. I am so happy. This is way easier than the shoulder surgery or the knee surgery.

We had quite a lot of overtime on the paycheck yesterday. As quickly as it comes in it is gone.

$255.00 Tithe
_474.36 AMEX (in full)
__56.61 Garbage (2 months)
_876.93 BoA Visa (in full)
_124.75 BoA MC (in full)
1000.00 Citi Visa (not in full, but not due until 4/3)
-----------
$2782.65 Total Money Out

This is over the amount of the paycheck. Mom and MIL both reimbursed us for stuff we bought for them so we had an extra $310 in checking from that.

As for Murphy, DH got a flat tire. He got a piece of metal in the tire. He's down at the shop now seeing about the repair. I don't know how much it will cost or if it will cost anything. Tire shops are weird that way. Sometimes they fix flats for free, depending on how bad the damage is. I am hoping we won't have to get new tires. This is on his father's truck that we technically have inherited, but we haven't taken the title to it yet. MIL is going to pay off the loan on it when the life insurance money comes in, but it hasn't yet. After that, we will take ownership of it.

If we have to buy new tires we will buy them from Costco. Still the cheapest place for tires I've ever found and good quality ones, too. I have loved the ones they put on the van. They drive very well. But I sure hope that expense is not one we have to shell out for right now.

DD's bed broke. The box spring and the frame collapsed. It's an old bed, a hand me down from my mother. We can't afford a new bed now. MIL has a bed we can take, but it has to be excavated first. She has so much junk in that room. The bed is covered with it and the path to the bed is covered with it. FIL was a real pack rat and MIL still is.

So after the tire is repaired, DH and DS will take the truck out to MIL's and try to get the bed out.

DD's surgery is scheduled for the 9th of April. We have to have $300 paid before then. Her deductible is $500. She's met some of it, and will meet some more with the pre-op appointment so $300 is what they reckon will be left to meet. The doctor's portion of the surgery itself costs $5449, but we won't have to pay all of that. The surgery center is supposed to get me a quote on their portion. I don't know about the doctor who administers the anesthesia. I believe our out of pocket is capped at $3000 per person. It might be $5000, though.

We still haven't been able to get the HSA to issue a corrected form. I think at this point we are just going to put the proper amount on the taxes and keep our fingers crossed that no on notices that proper form isn't there. And if we ever have an HSA again, it won't be there because they really don't know how to pull their heads out and do their jobs.

Otherwise, still muddling along. Still thinking I need to make up a meal plan, but still not doing it. I ended up throwing out a lot of veg and leftovers this week and so I really need to get back on top of the food waste issue. I kind of really let things go for a couple of weeks. I need to not do that, because is just wastes so much money. Some went to the ducks, some to the compost, and few things had to be binned.

I have been watching a show this week called Eat Well for Less. It is British. I found a couple of episodes on youtube and a few others elsewhere. It's a really good show. It focuses on fixing a family's food budget. It deals with brand addiction, food waste, picky eating, shopping without checking the pantry and fridge first, everyone eating different meals instead of the same meal, all of that stuff.

I found it very informative. And it gave me the incentive I needed to try to get my act back together again. I've got all my veggies that were left after cleaning the fridge prepped and ready to go so that it can get used up this week and not wasted. I am going to plan my meals around that when I finally sit down and make my meal plan tonight.

I don't need to buy any meat this week. I may need to buy salad greens and bananas, but I may hold off on the bananas because we have plenty of oranges and apples. I'd like some blackberries, though. Oh, I've got some freeze-dried ones. Those will do nicely. We have freeze-dried bananas, too, if it comes to that.

You Can't Pick Your Family

March 6th, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Mom's surgery was today. She had to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. She had her hip replaced and while they were in there they repaired a torn tendon they hadn't known about, which means her recovery is going to be a lot slower than they thought. Which also means I am going to need you all to pray for strength for me, because yet again it is all going to fall on me.

My one sister hasn't even called to see how she is doing. The other one called, but only after my aunt called her to see how Mom was doing. She had forgotten today was Mom's surgery. She did say thank you for being on top of everything. I said somebody has to, and she said better you than me. I kind of wanted to reach through the phone and shake her.

Then I told her what room number Mom is in and she isn't even going to go up and visit her. She'll be in the hospital for two days, possibly three, but oh, well, she has a "weird life," and "stuff to do." My sisters are not helpful when it comes to Mom, but I've just come to expect it.

Anyway, she came out of recovery around 1:00 and while she looked really pale, she was talking, hungry and asking for food. Which they still hadn't brought when I left around 2:30. She had a couple of crackers and some juice at least, but they were supposed to bring her lunch.

When I got home I called my aunt and gave her an update and then posted on Facebook so my cousins would know she was doing okay. I don't know why my aunt didn't just call me as I gave her my phone number when Mom had the shoulder surgery several months back.

I will be going back up tomorrow morning for her physical therapy session. They will teach us how to do the exercises properly. Supposedly they will teach her how to go up stairs with a walker. That's the part I am worried about because there are five steps into the house. Once we get her in it should be okay, there are no more stairs she will need to use. My son will be with me when we actually bring her home, though. DH will be at work, but thankfully DS is strong at almost 18 (a week from it).

I just hope my diet survives the next few weeks. I've lost 19 pounds since the start of February and I really don't want to start stress eating or worse, binge eating, again. Mom makes me want to do both on a good day, but when she is recovering from surgery that increases ten fold.

I prepped a ton of veggies today so that at least when she comes home I will not have to worry about that part of meal prep and can just easily cook dinners. I did six bell peppers, 2 yellow onions, 4 red onions, 6 stalks of broccoli, and 1 head of cauliflower. Tomorrow I will do carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers, and parsnips.

I really should make up a meal plan as well. I've been flying by the seat of my pants for the last two months, but planning will be necessary once Mom is home. I just wish I didn't have to make separate meals for her. But Mrs. Pickypants has never met an herb or spice she liked besides onion salt, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and Lawry's seasoned salt.

We eat a much larger variety of herbs and spices and nowhere near the amount of salts. Plus she doesn't like vegetables other than broccoli, caulifower, green beans, potatoes, and corn. And she won't want broccoli and cauliflower while she is unable to get to the bathroom quickly. So lots of bland meals, all meat and potatoes, really.

She wouldn't get TV dinners this time to help, either. For some reason she wants good healthy food cooked fresh now. She doesn't even do that for herself. She didn't want to do up any homemade freezer meals ahead of time, either. So basically it feels like she just wants to make as much work as possible for me. Well, it's not going to happen. I will cook enough food for 3 dinners in a row, 3 lunches in a row, and either my son or I will make breakfasts each day for her. And if she gets bored with it, well, what's she going to do, get up and cook herself?

I really, really hope when I am old and dependent on my children, that I will not be difficult about things. Of course, I would prepare and freeze most of my foods ahead of time if it was me and if medicare would pay for nursing home care for two weeks, I'd go, not put it all on my kids because I wanted to be at home instead.

I love my mother very much, but the whole situation just frustrates me to no end. My sisters, I am not happy with at all.

/Rant

Payday Report

March 4th, 2018 at 07:32 pm

It was nice having a little extra money in the paycheck on Friday. I like it when DH has the opportunity to earn overtime, especially since such a large chunk of pretax money is used to pay for insurance. I haven't been very good about posting the payday reports this year, so I am going to try to get back to doing that every payday.

$1000.00 to Citi Visa
__176.65 Tithe
__500.00 March Utilities to Mom
___56.83 DH Life Insurance
___45.30 Me Life Insurance
------------
$1778.78 Total Money Out

We spent slightly more than the paycheck, but there was $65 left in checking from the last paycheck.

I also got some reimbursement money from my mother for some stuff I picked up for her at Costco and then found a check in my purse from MIL from some stuff we picked up for her as well, so I got those in the bank of Friday. That was $310, but will go on the credit card, since we charge all expenses and then pay them off each month before interest hits.

I hope this coming Friday's pay will allow us to put a little into the emergency fund. It will have 26 hours of overtime on it.

Rambling Update

March 3rd, 2018 at 09:07 am

I know I am not posting a ton right now, but the push to get the last town storage unit cleared out had been ongoing. We had until February 28th to be out and it went down to the wire due to snow.

One of the only fun things about it has been finding all the loose coins. I've found another $3.24 in American money bringing that balance to $5.92 and another Canadian dollar, bringing that to $2.60 Canadian.

We will still have a lot to go through in our out of city units, but at least we will only be paying $225 going forward and not almost double that each month. With the amount of boxes in the out of city units to go through, I believe we will be able to eventually downsize to the one larger unit, which will be $125.

We will be able to wait for nice days now that the last city unit is done. Having to work in the snow or below freezing temps has not been fun. DH did finally find our wedding album and it is fine. I never meant for that album to end up in storage to begin with so it is nice to have it home again.

DH is getting overtime again. He got 10 hours for the week ending last Friday and he has worked both Saturday and Sunday as well, but those will be on the following paycheck. He may get 70 hours this week. All of the money will be helpful as the washing machine is not working right and we will have to get it repaired.

We have been jollying it along, using a hose to fill it, since it was agitating before the water would go in. Originally, it was only doing this at the start, but now it is doing it on the rinse cycle, which means stopping the machine and filling it again for the rinse cycle. Filling it once is bad enough, but having to fill it twice is beyond annoying and means you can't leave the house while using the machine and it wastes a lot of time in the day.

Hopefully there will be a little money left afterwards to go back into rebuilding the emergency fund. DH did get asked to do some safety training for unnamed oil company so he can be the project lead on a project for them. So that one starts after his current project ends and will mean an additional 2 months of work. Which should get him to the end of the six months contract through the job recruiter so that he can be hired on directly with this company or find another job without having to buy out the remainder of the contract.

I am glad he has more work coming, but living in a constant state of not knowing when he will have a secure job is taking its toll on my stress levels. Security has always been my number one issue in life and I really want it back. I don't want to have to worry from month to month if DH will still have a job. I know that a lot of people deal with this situation or worse because they have no emergency fund, but up until a couple of years ago we never had.

It has been tough to go from a life that was always secure to one that is not. It was awful to lose all of the money from our house down payment fund and most of our emergency fund and to be sitting here on the brink of not having an emergency fund at all. It has sucked to have medical emergency after medical emergency with limited or no insurance. I hate having to live like this. It screws with my head.

And just when it feels like we will have a little extra money again, the washing machine breaks and the sun roof on the mini-van starts leaking again. Once we get the money together, I am having the sun roof sealed, since they obviously can't fix it so it actually stays fixed. It will lower resale value, but by the time we sell this thing, it will be 20 years old, so I doubt it will have much resale value anyway. And the second sun roof will still work, anyway.

I won't buy a car with a sun roof again. We seldom used it when it worked because half the time the angle of the sun coming in would shine in the rear view mirror and blind the driver. And with working AC there was no real need for it. Even sitting in the car waiting for someone on a hot day, with the sun roof open, the sun just beat down on us. It just isn't worth it.

If it wasn't leaking into the seat belt holder it wouldn't be so bad, but every time I pull the seat belt out to use it when it has been raining it is soaked. It would have to be on the driver's side. Speaking of the seat belt holder, the other day when I took my seat belt off, it took my hair with it into the seat belt holder. Fortunately the kids were in the car and could pull it back out, because I couldn't move to do it.

So, it is time for a hair cut, I guess. Or I need to keep my hair in a braid when I'm driving. It's down to the bottom of my shoulder blades and it is starting to get caught under my arms when I put my arms down after having them raised. I am rolling over when I am sleeping to sometimes pull it as well if I don't sleep in a braid. I like having long hair, but geesh, it can be a pain sometimes.

I hate wearing a braid outside in the winter, though. It exposes my ears and the back of my neck and I chill so easily. It is long enough to donate if I decide to cut it to my shoulders, which will still keep my ears and the back of my neck warm, at least.

I have been considering getting it layered so it will work with my natural curl. It frizzes a lot when it is all one length and the weight pulls out a lot of the curl, but when it is layered it curls like crazy. It would also cut down on the heaviness since it is so thick. I probably should just bite the bullet and do it. I am getting too old for long hair, I think.

The last time my hair was this long I dithered for months and then got it cut so short I hated it. It wasn't an easy to care for cut, either, which is the main reason why I hated it. Plus it worked against my curls. I know if I layer it, I'd have to use product, which I don't care for much, but it would be nice to have a change. You can see why it takes me forever to decide, hmm? Seriously, does anyone else have this problem? I've been like this my whole life. Always wanting short hair when it was long and long hair when it was short.

Once I do get it cut, I'll make a decision on coloring then. I think most of what I will be left with will have heavy grey streaking. A lot of what is still auburn will be cut off, leaving mostly grey streaked auburn. They grey washes it out, though and makes it look duller. I am not one of those folks who can go blonde because it washes me out and the grey is doing the same. But I hate spending the time coloring my hair, even when it is my daughter applying it instead of me.

Well, enough time spent wasting my morning. I'm off to organize, toss, and donate. It will end some day.